Confessions of a Spook by Michael Washburn

Let me tell you just how enjoyable the scrutiny of strangers can be.

Today I am a hard, bitter man with little use for boyish fantasy. But my younger self craved the adventure, the romance, the thrill that the impressionable associate with the life of an agent in the service of Australia’s government. Having done research on the way of life of agents on sensitive missions, I thought I had an idea of the secrecy and the training that go with one’s induction into the service. Even so, a lot of what went on at the beginning came as a shock.

When I joined up, my supervisors told me that they needed to put together a detailed psychological profile of their new spy. If I was going to serve them in far-flung locales, they needed to know not just of my qualifications and skills, but of all the people I’d alienated, all the enemies I’d made, all the traumas I’d endured, all the phobias that grew like mold across my psyche. They needed to be aware of all my foibles and vulnerabilities, so that they could anticipate any scenarios where I might cave to pressure, forget my training, and act or talk irresponsibly. In the event that something happened to me, the profile might help them pinpoint who’d done it and why.

I had no choice but to cooperate. It’s routine, anyway, they assured me. A formality. Just take clipboard, pen, and paper, fill in a few pages for us, forget all about it, and move on to the substance of your elite role. Ever the obedient operative, I began to orient myself in my distant past. But the past in question was not really all that distant. I was thirty at the time they took me on, and I had to furnish an account of my relationship with my parents. I revisited the past, the life of a young man in a state of arrested development, living at home, in a two-story brick house in a suburb of Canberra, long after his friends had gotten married, started families, and become homeowners.

With respect to my mother, there isn’t all that much to tell. It is impossible for me to recall that woman without a cigarette in her hand. She began smoking when she was nineteen, evolved into a three-pack-a-day lady in grad school, and never let up. It was grotesque how much she smoked. She never—I mean literally never—exercised or saw a doctor. When my mother died of a heart attack in her sleep, at fifty-six, the question in my mind was not why she died so young, but how she’d made it that far. The last year and a half of her life were not pretty, let me tell you. It was as if she knew what she’d done to her body. She knew quite well what was coming, and needed someone to scream at and accuse of various things, to take her mind off herself. I was there and I came in handy. You wouldn’t believe what she said to me, or I to her. My own mother.

After her death, the clinical depression that had cramped my father’s existence for many years grew ever more severe. I got used to walking through the door of our modest brick house to find a man with wispy white hair lolling in front of the TV, with a look that kept just a bit of the educated, refined mien people had known him for before he stepped down from the chairmanship of the math department of one of the local universities. It might have been better if he’d just gone to hell altogether. No matter how far he wasted away, he kept just a hint of urbanity about him, and that made his inertia and dysfunction hideous to behold.

My father had a weird paranoid streak, manifesting itself in a hundred little panic attacks a week. That may not sound like much, but try to imagine what it was like for me. If he happened to see a bill from my car insurance provider on the living room table, with the words “24-hour claims service” in the top left portion of the envelope, something odd happened in my father’s mind. He didn’t think it was just a monthly bill from an ordinary service provider, but rather, a letter from a collection agency, seeking to recoup a huge debt I owed to someone. I must not be living within my means, I must be doing reckless, insane things.

Another example: If my father happened to come downstairs in his bathrobe on a Monday morning and see a week’s worth of empty bottles gathered in the pantry before I took them out to the curb, bang! He assumed I’d drunk the contents of all those bottles the night before. Ergo, I was fifty times over the legal blood-alcohol limit this morning and would get fired upon arriving at work. Some might dismiss these reactions as trivial, but they fed an atmosphere where at times I found myself wanting to kill my father. Oh, it got infinitely worse over time. My mother’s death, after decades of neglecting her health, made him solicitous about my health. The fellow was always peering at me, as if trying to look into me, to hone his view of the pockets of flab roiling inside me, the shifting fat in my body putting me at risk of a heart attack. To be quite honest, I was a little out of shape, even if no one would have described me as fat. All it took was a bit of bulge at the waist to push my father into frenzied imaginings. As fevered as his delusions were, he kept up his aloof academic air a good deal of the time. He said astounding things, but in a dry monotone. Once he and I were standing with thirty others in the courtyard of a hotel where a second cousin of mine was going to get married. People were milling around, talking of jobs and mortgages, paying special attention to my father because they didn’t want him to feel any alienation or loneliness. Every time he spoke, he commanded the attention of virtually everybody. Quite without preamble, he turned to me and said, “You know, Richard, there is a scale in the restroom right over there. You could weigh yourself.”

“Excuse me?” I asked in disbelief, in front of dozens of attentive ears and eyes. He thought I’d said it because I hadn’t heard him, not that I was unable to believe what I’d heard quite clearly. He repeated his suggestion, in that same academic monotone.

“You could weigh yourself.”

I felt the gazes of my relatives all around me as I stood there in the warm air of the courtyard. I thought of breaking his jaw. To this day, I believe that he spoke without malice or spite, he honestly did not know why someone might not react well to his suggestion. That didn’t make me feel too much better. Oh, dad. Here was the aloof academic with whom I’d grown up. In the months that followed, his unwanted scrutiny of my body and  his panic attacks over my health or over a bill grew ever more frequent and acute. On occasion, he woke up at night in the throes of a panic attack so severe that he grabbed the phone beside his bed and called the police or paramedics, leaving me with a lot of explaining to do.

In describing my father’s solicitude for my health, and his alarm over empty beer bottles, I may have given the impression that he was an exceedingly proper gentleman who would not tolerate sloth or excess. For the record, I’ve always felt quite humiliated at my father’s deportment. There are certain stereotypes about mathematicians being nerdy and unable to interact socially with the ease that comes naturally to others. I’ve always thought my father was aware of that stereotype and tried to overcompensate. He saw nothing wrong with open expressions of sexual longing. He installed a little program on his desktop that made a three-inch woman walk across the screen, pause midway, strip, and ogle the viewer in the most lascivious way, pushing her bare breasts forward, sliding her palms across her buttocks and pulling them wide apart. It made me queasy to watch these things or to hear him talk quite openly about what he’d like to do to the teen waitress in the bar on the corner. If you ever confronted him about this, you got something between a grin and a smirk. How amusing that someone should grow alarmed over the stash of porn mags and DVDs in his bedroom, or his putting the internet at the service of his urges. He thought he was being cute!

I wanted to put my father out of my mind forever. I requested duty overseas, under the auspice of the South Asian intelligence bureau run by an official who had taken a liking to me and had voiced the highest regard for my abilities.

We were all weary of the interminable chasing and hunting of terrorists, but the public was understandably furious about intelligence failures. We were eager to nab a pair of guys who knew about the origins of the plot to blow up the nightclub in Bali in 2002, a particularly horrific event in which eighty-eight Australians lost their lives, and maybe knew about other plots as well. The status of this operation was, as they say, “ultra top secret.” The terrorists love to mix it up with the law-abiding civilians. Give them any warning, and the populace scatters like an avalanche of pebbles down a mountainside. Good luck finding anyone in particular. ASIS had invested so much into covert ops in Indonesia over the years, and we thought we had some pretty good intelligence from an operative who had sat down in a café with Prendy Gunawan, whom we knew as a member of a cell of Jemaah Islamiyah, the most widely feared terrorist organization on the archipelago. Whatever else you might say about Prendy, he was a personable guy who liked Fleetwood Mac and gave this almost embarrassingly broad grin when you met with him in person. Our operative asked him about this tic once and Prendy said the expression meant something to the effect of “Paradise is at hand.” In other words, tourism may have waned severely thanks to the bombings in 2002 and 2005, but we’re on the cusp of rooting out the terrorists and making the island a place where tourists in straw hats love to recline in chairs on the beach, sipping sangria. Our operative, alias Abdul Iskandar, worked for my ASIS colleagues Scott Gibson and Nick Talbot. He met with Prendy in a café in Kuta at the southern end of the island and gained some fairly reliable intelligence about a meeting of the higher-ups within the cell in the village. So, we were going in.

Suspicions were afoot now that our man Abdul might not have been the honest concerned citizen we imagined. Let me take this opportunity to clarify the matter. As far as I know, Abdul was quite honest and dependable. He did not share Prendy’s views. The trouble arose when a crusading online news agency, Transparent Authority, received a leak from a disgruntled Darwin-based member of ASIS, Bruce Owens, whose purview included all counterterrorism ops in Indonesia. The agency quickly distributed a list of operatives working there, including one Abdul Iskandar. It didn’t publish the information on its home page, for there were people even Transparent Authority did not wish to alienate, but on surrogate sites with text in the Indonesian language. Members of Jemaah Islamiyah quickly got hold of the information; that explains why our men in the field had a bit of trouble locating or speaking with Abdul after such a long, if covert, association.

But the mission went ahead. I, for one, acted on the assumption that Abdul Iskandar had not been privy to any dates for operations in the planning phase. We were aware of the possibility of disloyalty. We had given Abdul a certain amount of “decoy info” to mislead the jihadists into preparing for ASIS actions in cities barely on our radar at all, and we asked Abdul to gather data about people we didn’t really consider a threat. A certain number of my colleagues in the agency thought themselves exceedingly clever.

The night of the operation arrived.

I won’t forget remember the sights, noises, and odors of this night. We could not entirely avoid making noise as we moved down the road on the outskirts of the village of Sayan in the moonlight. We thought it was shrewd, deploying a mélange of ASIS men and Indonesian security operatives. all in civilian clothes. This was neither a mission launched by white “imperialists,” nor one for which we had to give Indonesia all the credit, you see. There weren’t many white faces in our team, mind you, just Scott Gibson, Nick Talbot, and myself, and we were on the inside of the cluster. Anyone who happened to glimpse us in the moonlight from one of the farms on either side of the road would probably not have made out any alarming Caucasian features. We had avoided at least one of the errors that allowed no fewer than six fugitives to slip away in the preceding ten months.

The village was coming up. I scanned the strip of bare road between the façade of a restaurant and the dark windows of a garage. I watched as things began happening nearly exactly according to plan. I started to think that the planning of the operation had been a stroke of genius. Three men wearing trousers and button-down shirts, with almost a prim appearance, passed from the mouth of the restaurant onto the moonlit road. I recognized two of them immediately. One of them was Rahman Taslim, one of the most wanted suspects on the island, and the other was Prendy Gunawan. The third fellow wasn’t obviously a match with anyone on our list of suspects but was worth questioning if he knew the other two. I was already thinking about the PR upshot of a victory.

I watched as more bodies flowed through the double doors of the restaurant out onto the road. We were closing the distance fast. The moonlight was particularly strong tonight and it threw into relief the beards and thick dark hair of the twenty or so men who had filled the street. Among them were a handful of women.

Now Prendy was looking in our direction and I had the impression, unlikely though it seemed, that he was making eye contact with me as a grin I knew all too well spread over his features. He wasn’t thinking about Fleetwood Mac right now; he had another kind of sublimity in mind. Another way to enter paradise. I guessed that Prendy and Abdul had a slightly different relationship from what we’d supposed. Either that, or Abdul’s outing by Transparent Authority had enabled the enemy to get top-secret info. At exactly this point, a bit of fluttering motion in my peripheral vision gave me a hint of the presence of maybe three people on the roof of the garage. In the crowd on the road, figures were reaching and groping as the moonlight reflected off long sleek cylinders. My colleagues noticed these developments immediately, but not what was happening atop the garage.

Scott, who had warned me innumerable times about the perils of hair-trigger reactions, gave the order to fire. His eyes told me not to argue. So what if there were noncombatants over there? The rules of engagement as he interpreted them at this moment said fire! Nick and I raised the barrels of our Beretta 93R machine pistols. The local operatives were even faster. We began firing even as a cacophony of shouts and flashes arose amid the crowd outside the restaurant. More fluttering motions atop the garage left no doubt our presence had registered up there. I heard a WHUMP! on the ground behind me, as if a giant canvas had toppled onto its face, and then it felt as if a thousand vicious insects were biting my back. My body pitched forward. I was aware of inexorable horizontal movement and I remember thinking I was going the wrong way, toward the flashing muzzles of the enemy. But then it was as if my bones turned to water, I was crumpling, I felt a round graze my right ear, and my face smacked the dirt so hard I blacked out.

I woke up in a cage in a bright room. I blinked incessantly for a couple of minutes. Outside the cage, men in crisp green uniforms, which were a little short by Western standards, moved around talking in the language I had only just begun to master. The cage was stationary but the room was moving. I was in the back of a truck. Before long, they parked and moved the cage out of the truck, through a courtyard, and into what resembled a factory. Then I was inside another bright room. This was where I first heard people say the name Dr. Fraser. The doctor was Australian, but most people here were locals. The cage was to be my home save for when a few of the captors escorted me to a dingy cement room with a toilet, a sink, and a curtainless stall. There was also the occasion where they led me in cuffs to a plain room where an officer sat at a desk and gazed at me with eyes as cold and lucid as a pond on the hills of Jindabyne. In precise, faintly labored English, he informed me that eighteen civilians had died in the botched operation along with Gibson, Talbot, and five members of the indigenous security forces. Now wasn’t the time to weep for my colleagues. When I tried to speak, a raspy moan came out.

“You have to give me a lawyer.”

“No.”

Please!

He shook his head impatiently. I told him it was most unfortunate that civilians had perished, but the enemy’s longstanding modus operandi was to mingle with innocents so as to complicate our efforts to fight back, and collateral damage wasn’t all that unusual. The officer retorted that that was what he’d expected me to say, but I must know that apart from the criminal conviction looming over me, the authorities on the archipelago had a use for me. I was the bearer of intelligence they had run after in the dark for years and years. Australia had refused to cooperate with them and it was a tense relationship at best. Nearly every time the ASIS tried to do anything here on the archipelago, it proved a catastrophe for the Indonesian authorities. They had to assuage many citizens outraged over their failure to control what a foreign power did in Indonesia in the name of Western interests. Now, at last, the officials had a live, conscious, articulate Western operative in captivity.

I begged for a lawyer. He shook his head with the same impatience. I feigned bewilderment at what this stern little man behind the desk had disclosed. I knew exactly what he meant. Now, these officials and their friends hoped and expected, they would be able to locate Western operatives the world over, no matter how cleverly or elaborately disguised. Well, I wondered, if they did find out an agent’s identity, and his or her role in sensitive operations, what exactly would that mean for the agent?

In the tentative spirit of collaboration that made the joint operation possible, the government on the archipelago had shared files with the government in Canberra. Of course I am using shared in a broad sense. Whether by request or through subterfuge, the officials who held me were privy to certain personal information.

So, if you want to situate yourself within my experience, what can I tell you?

Imagine a wall in your house is an eye that never blinks.

They took me out of the cage and put me in yet another bright room, 12’ by 12’. Here is the reality to which I awoke every morning. Contrary to what you might assume after having watched lots of interrogation scenes in films, the window forming one of the four walls enclosing me was not one-way but fully transparent. The managers of this facility wanted me to know exactly who was peering at me with the most prurient interest. I slept on a bunk at the wall opposite the window. In the morning Dr. Fraser entered the room. He was a prim middle-aged man with a bald scalp and a horseshoe of dark hair, who wore thick glasses and a white jacket.

“Good morning, mate,” the doctor said in an unmistakable Aussie accent.

Accompanying Dr. Fraser were a couple of guards. They placed me, naked, in the center of the room. Clamps joined to chains went around my ankles and wrists, then the chains tautened until I felt I was going to split apart. I saw everyone who stepped into the rectangular room on the far side of the window, and people spent many hours a day scrutinizing me. Officials, guards, doctors, twenty-one-year-old female interns in business casual attire stepped into that room to have a look. My attire was the most casual of all. I never had a stitch of clothing and my cock hung there like a burst balloon. The young female interns kept looking at it, beginning to laugh, giving each other looks. They studied me, sometimes asking questions, sometimes jotting notes down on pads. When they spoke to me at all, they said the issue of overriding concern was my health. The depth of their concern and their alarm about my health required them to examine me so thoroughly, or so they said. Surely I had not forgotten my history of health problems, my unwillingness to weigh myself, or my disregard for the concern of elders with more mature attitudes.

Mercifully, the chains loosened so I could use my limbs a bit. A couple of young guys, Amat and Lemah, took turns coming in a few times a day to deliver meals on plastic trays and clean up my waste. Amat was fit and handsome and had a brash demeanor. Lemah, by contrast, had a big ungainly figure and was quite slow. At times he seemed to struggle to recall what he was supposed to do next. Their shifts alternated at times but I was able to begin to figure out how often I could expect to see either of them. One thing I noted was that Lemah didn’t appear to resent me. He was pretty lax about letting me take as long as I wanted to eat.

People kept coming to the window and staring at me. On the rolling metal table to my left there was a towel. One day I realized that I could move my leg just far enough to give the table a weak little kick. By doing this repeatedly, I was able to make the towel fall to the floor. I got it between two of my toes and thence into my left hand. I was able to cover my cock with the towel. When the space behind the window filled up, people saw a man with sweat all over his face, naked except for that scrap of cloth over his groin. A few of them giggled at the sight. It had the negative virtue of not being interesting enough to keep them around.

The stratagem might have worked if not for Dr. Fraser. He looked at me through the window, then came in with a grin running practically from one end of his spectacles to the other.

“Clever, aren’t we?”

He swiped the towel, folded it with distaste, placed it back on the table, and left. The observers could watch me and my shriveled penis for as long as they pleased.

All of the observers took an active interest in me, but I remember that one of the young interns, in particular, an Indonesian girl with straight dark hair and glasses, liked to watch at those times of the day when my muscles writhed and tensed and slackened and tensed again and I shat uncontrollably. She maintained her maturity as she watched this happen. I imagined her thought process. Surely we are not so immature that we cannot watch a natural function of an adult male’s body. Several times a week, the official who had interviewed me during the intake moved into that rectangle of space. His questions were always pointed. He wanted the names and locations of operatives, the lowdown on planned operations. It was agents, in the employ of or on friendly terms with ASIS who most interested him. He wanted to know who they were, what online footprint they might have, what aliases they might blog or post under. Of course I knew quite a few agents, in the employ of many governments, but I thought of what it would mean for them if I sang.

My days—or nights?—were largely the same but at times, I recall, there were problems with the lights in the room and they had to send in technicians who got hastily to work. On rare occasions the whole room had problems. The chains got looser, they didn’t function properly as pulleys controlling my movements and position within the room. The technicians moved me, still naked, to the cage in the bright room where I’d been before. Outside that cage, officers milled around or sat at desks shuffling papers and drinking coffee from Styrofoam cups. There weren’t many such occasions, but enough for certain people to grow quite frustrated.

On the third occasion of the room’s general malfunctioning, I sat out in the cage witnessing the most remarkable thing. A couple of the officers I observed through the bars had white skin and wore Australian uniforms. I began to wonder just how furtive the local officials had had to be in order to gain access to my file. Here I think it is necessary to acknowledge the complexity of the situation. The authorities on the archipelago were furious at Canberra for the incident in which I’d played a role, for other botched missions, and for the general high-handedness with which a Western government treated a non-white regime. At the same time, even in the face of those failures, the Indonesians knew quite well they’d be harming themselves if they refused to let seasoned Aussies, with lots of sensitive information available to them, help out as advisors in the intelligence-gathering and missions. Australia had loads of technology and manpower to commit to the efforts, at no cost to Indonesia, no monetary cost anyway. So, after the third episode where the room in which they kept me malfunctioned, I saw an Australian officer berating one of his Indonesian counterparts, who sulked like a Vichy policeman at the harangue of an SS commander. The locals had to do a better job of cleaning and maintaining the restraints in that room, he yelled, for nothing less than brand integrity was at stake! That’s exactly the phrase he used. Brand integrity. The systems of restraints and pulleys, as well as the concept of the exposed cell itself, were components of a brand developed and put to use by secret governmental organizations going back to the Vietnam War. Fuck up brand integrity in a corporate civilian context, and people will literally come after you with guns, so just imagine the possible reactions when the same happened in clandestine operations undertaken in the name of national security and counterterrorism.

Neither the Australian officer nor his counterpart appeared to notice me. Lemah’s attentions were bumbling, but he didn’t appear to hate me. As for Dr. Fraser, well, he was a different case. The doctor came and went, came and went, laughing at me, chiding me, mocking me whenever I tried to use the towel to cover my limp appendage. I spent countless more hours in front of the audiences at the window. At one point, their interest seemed to wane ever so faintly. I recall one afternoon when I hung there, unsure of whether my status as a prisoner was the same as the day before. I amused myself by making my toes dance. Where were the observers? Perhaps they weren’t quite so taken with me, perhaps they had downgraded my status a bit. I dared to hope until the door in the wall running perpendicular to the observation window swished open, and the young Indonesian intern who’d observed me before  came in. The intern moved up to a position a few feet from me and scanned me from head to foot.

“I hope you have a mature attitude to the scrutiny you’re undergoing,” she said.

My, her English was flawless. I didn’t say anything.

“Dr. Fraser has explained to all of us why this is part of an enlightened, twenty-first-century penal program,” she added.

My chains had tightened. I looked down. Her gaze had alighted on something so puny, one would hardly dare to call it a cock. Her cool professional manner implied that she, at least, had a mature attitude about her training, about all it entailed. So scholarly was her air as she stared at what was down there, mentally processing and filing away data. I tried to move my arms, but only made parts of them really red. I felt a tautening of my muscles, realizing she was just close enough for me to snap her neck if I could make one quick decisive move. She stared for maybe forty minutes before she lifted her eyes to meet mine and answered an unspoken question.

“We’re only at the beginning. You know how concerned we are about your health,” she said.

Only now did I realize that the area behind the observation window had filled up. As the intern pronounced the word health, with such peculiar emphasis, twelve heads behind that long sheet of glass nodded solemnly. The eye had not really even blinked.

On the following morning, Lemah came in to give me my breakfast. There was a roll with butter, a bit of granola, and a pitcher full of orange juice. I ate and slurped as he moved about the room, cleaning and arranging things. As usual, any distaste over my body’s functions failed to register in Lemah’s dull features. Soon he was done and reached for the tray. I signaled that I needed a bit more time. He stood there, silent, looking as if he were struggling to recall something. He then turned and walked out of the room. My sense of the ebb and flow of people on the other side of the glass was so acute that I knew exactly when to get the plastic pitcher in my hands and tear a strip from it. Within seconds, I had a shiv with a sharp point, the possession of which would get any normal prisoner a long spell in solitary.

I’d just gotten the towel into place over my groin, and the other instrument, when Dr. Fraser came in holding a clipboard.

“How are you enjoying the scrutiny, mate?”

I didn’t respond.

“The observers have given your health careful consideration and we think it’s about time to weigh you.”

Still I stared at him.

“Of course, you’re an adult, you’re perfectly capable of weighing yourself. I’m sure you’ve developed a mature, enlightened attitude.”

Dr. Fraser bent forward and yanked the towel off me. With a movement too fast for him to see, I thrust the shiv upward and cut his forehead from end to end. He danced around the room screaming for a full minute, blood shooting everywhere, before the Indonesians rushed in. When they carried him from the room, a huge bloody flap of skin dangled from his forehead like banana skin.

They put me back in the cage in the bright room to which they had moved me once every few weeks. They could hardly move me to a worse place than where I’d been, and at this point it didn’t matter. One of the Australian officers, a young lieutenant with fringes of blond hair just visible under the edges of his cap, came up and viewed the gibbering naked man. He came up to the cage and talked with me through the bars for an hour. The sensitive intelligence in his eyes responded to what I was whispering. My next meeting was with three Indonesian officials and a pair of high-ranking ASIS men. The latter had grown interested in my case after hearing about me from a colleague and were now leaning toward the view that if I’d had anything to share with the local authorities, I would have done so long, long ago.

I was going to be free. I was going home to the house my father still owned in the suburbs of Canberra. He no longer lived there, but in a nursing home where seniors went to scarf Jell-O and watch game shows in grimy rooms for a few months or weeks before they kicked off. Moreover, in recognition of my experience being a tad unpleasant at times, they were coming through with a monetary settlement. A nice one, to be quite honest. On many afternoons during the six months after my release, I pulled into the driveway of the house in Canberra, got out, stretched, walked up the drive to my front door, and noticed something rather odd in my peripheral vision. Yes, it was quite odd. A young dog, practically a puppy, white with black and brown splotches, was poking its head over the top of the knoll forming the western perimeter of my block. The dog wore a little red plastic collar with a bell on it, had an eager look, and held something in its mouth. I stood there on my doorstep making eye contact with the dog until it mounted the knoll and galloped down the edge of it and up the drive. The creature was so eager, so friendly. I knelt, plucked the envelope from the dog’s mouth, patted it on the head, then watched it race back up to the crest of the knoll and disappear. Inside the envelope was enough to live well for a long, long time. I received regular visits from that little dog until I was almost ready to say, Hey, I’m not a victim, misunderstandings happen even between friendly governments.

            But every time I tried to take a cab from the office where I worked to a doctor’s office for a routine checkup, I experienced such severe panic and hyperventilation that the driver ended up taking me to a hospital. Once we got to the hospital, I refused to get out of the cab, and the poor Pakistani man behind the wheel of the cab ended up calling the police. I have come to the realization that this syndrome isn’t going away until I bring it before the world. I need the world to listen. I’ve come to understand what lies in wait for operatives when somebody outs them. All candidates for high office, in every country in every corner of this hideous terrifying world, must understand their obligations to keep secret what must never, ever come to light. Imagine a wall in your house is an eye that never blinks.

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